Lawmakers Push for Safer Drain Regulations
SACRAMENTO, CA (KGO) -- The state Senate is set to consider a bill that would protect kids planning to jump into a pool this summer from a hidden danger. The bill already passed unanimously this week in the assembly.
A 7 On Your Side investigation last summer demonstrated the violent and sometimes fatal suction coming from many pool drains. Now a new bill could give our children the same protection given to children in other states.
At just 3-years-old, Ryan Kotschedoff from Mission Viejo learned an important lesson about the force of a drain in a backyard spa.
"Hurt me," said Kotschedoff.
"What happened Ryan?" asked ABC7's Michael Finney.
"It sucked me in," said Kotschedoff.
He recovered, but now his parents are urging passage of a state law mandating protective drain covers or other safety devices in public pools and spas.
"Coping with the near death of my son was difficult, but many other parents are not as lucky as I have been," said Ryan's father Peter Kotschedoff.
Thirty-five children have died in drain entrapment accidents, and another 100 children have been seriously injured.
Last summer, 7 On Your Side randomly inspected the pools of nine hotels in San Mateo County. All nine of them would need to add protective covers or other measures under the proposed new bill.
"Thanks to you and your story, and we found out that California doesn't have any laws regarding this, regarding pool safety drains," said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D) San Francisco.
That's why Ma is sponsoring legislation with Republican Bill Emmerson of Redlands.
Their bill would put California in compliance with a federal law named after Virginia Graham Baker, the granddaughter of former Secretary of State James Baker. She died after being trapped by the suction of a drain on the bottom of a pool.
"The funny thing is even though parents are supervising, the entrapment can happen right underneath their eyes. The kid goes down, gets sucked to the bottom, wow, he's down too long, what's going on," said Captain Christian Pebbles from the Sacremento Metropolitan Fire District.
"We believe safety first. We should do whatever we can to prevent unnecessary deaths," said Ma.
It's estimated there are 80,000 public pools in California. That includes pools at hotels and health clubs. The cost of installing a pool drain cover including labor is $200 to $300.